📚Noisy Deadlines

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."- Douglas Adams

Yeah, I think I'm just gonna skip Spring this year...

... said The Weather in Ottawa.

Snow in Spring

P.S.: I am not complaining.

Books I read March 2019

  1. Bitten (Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong, 436p.

    • I did not like this book. Maybe it just wasn't for me. When you get into the details of being a werewolf, the pain, the tearing of clothing and the wild hunger, it just puts me off. Maybe I don't like shapeshifters at all.
  2. The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal, 384p.

    • This book is way more action packed than the first one. It feels more sci-fy-ish with a great deal of ordinary human life details. And that makes the story and the characters feel alive. Diversity, racism and human rights discussions are intertwined with the story. There is even a Brazilian astronaut that curses in Portuguese. Anyway, highly recommended as an entertaining and exciting soft sci-fi read!
  3. The Lady Astronaut of Mars (Lady Astronaut #4.5) by Mary Robinette Kowal, 31p.

    • A short story about older Elma and Nathaniel living in Mars. It happens 30 years after Elma joined the expedition to Mars. It's sad and hopeful at the same time. Will Elma go on another space travel exploration or will she stay and watch her husband die? I read it in one sitting.
  4. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, 414p.

    • An evolutionary perspective with science mixing up with anthropology, politics, culture, religion, biology, economics, history. It's a fascinating read and it made me think about many things and change my world view. It gives us a higher perspective on how we got here and leaves an open question as to why we are here.
  5. Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger, 355p.

    • A fun read, as always. But something about werewolves started to bother me. And all the fictional “aether” and “soul” content theories that governs this world. It's extremely well built but my suspension of disbelief was not so strong while I was reading this book. Overall it's a great steampunk fantasy, with lots of Victorian humor!

Reading plans for April:

  • Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff
  • Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3) by Martha Wells
  • Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4) by Martha Wells

#readinglist #books #reading

In these days of misinformation, fake news and click baits it's good to have some initiatives to teach us how to navigate this messy digital information ocean (or hell...).

And Crash Course – Navigating Digital Information is an excellent way to learn about media literacy. The host is John Green, also known as the author of the novel “The fault in our stars” who, along with his brother, Hank Green, has this more than 10-years-old YouTube channel (Vlogbrothers).

Navigating Digital Information is a 10-episode series that was developed in partnership with the Poynter Institute Media Wise project based on research form the Stanford History Education Group.

The series covers topics like: – Lateral reading and fact checking – How to use Wikipedia (and how it is awesome!) – How to evaluate photos and videos – How to read charts and graphics (and how to be critical about them!) – How to know who to trust online.

I highly recommend this series to everyone that uses the Internet, no matter the age.

#crashcourse #digitalinformation #medialiteracy #internet

Me ice skating at the Canal - Dows Lake

I've reached the end of my Beginners Level 2 ice skating course. ☃

The thing about learning how to ice skate as an adult is that the learning process is painfully slow. And I say “painfully” in the literal sense of the word. It involves learning how to fall and how to get up on ice. It is challenging! Specially for me who had zero experience on the ice.

Last winter I took the Level 1 course (Intro to Ice) which taught me how to fall, how to get up and how to stand up on ice skates. I could barely glide forward. I would usually fall a few moments after I entered the rink. I could take little steps forward and I was terrified most of the time. I can say it was one of the most challenging things I've done in my adult life!

But now, 18 hours of ice skating later and feeling more confident, I feel way less afraid. There is a point in the learning process where you stop struggling with the laws of physics on having no friction under your feet, and start to actually just glide. But you gotta keep your balance. And that takes a lot of brain and muscle power!

Until now, while I'm skating forward, there is that awkwardness and wobbly body movements that denotes a beginner ice skater. But I feel completely satisfied with my progression! It was hard work!

So now I can say I find ice skating relaxing even when I'm struggling with it. It's a weird combination. It's one of those activities that requires mindfulness. Full focus. Concentration. And I think that is what makes it so rewarding in the end. It combines difficulty with fun.

These are the techniques I want to improve: stopping, one foot glide, backwards C-pushes (also known as “half-bubbles” and T-pushes.

And I can't wait to take the next course! I am ready for more! While I wait, I will continue going to the ice rink on weekends to practice until they are available to the public (you know, summer is coming).

#iceskating #learning #challenge

Thoughts on Mr. Robot

I just watched episode 7 of Mr. Robot (Season 2) the other day.

Yeah. I know, it's old but I'm catching up [so, spoilers ahead].

I just loved this episode so much that I kept thinking about it for a few days. I would say Mr. Robot is not usually my type of show. It's dramatic. I usually like something with more action.

But the show has such a unique tone that it makes drama seem good to me. I mean, it's about hacking the world and questioning the status quo of everything. And I like that. It's techno-thriller, and it's really good at that.

The thing is that the main character, Elliot, is really complex. He is hacker and cyber-security engineer with anxiety and social disorders.

I was stunned when I found out in Season 1 that his father was actually dead and that all the conversations he was having were inside his head. It has that Fight Club feeling to it. After I knew his father was dead and that all along he was having this hallucinatory delusion, I started remembering the scenes and realizing that, yes, his father was not interacting with the other characters, only with Elliot.

So, what I mean here is that I like the way the series plays with scenes and situations. It's a puzzle. It has hidden meaning. It has layers.

Episode 7 of Season 2 was mind blowing to me because since the beginning I knew Elliot was trapped somewhere. And something felt wrong. He had a routine, starting in a small room with a bed and a desk, he would eat with the same guy at a cafeteria, then sat down to watch people play basketball, then went to a religious assistance group and finally back to his room to write in his journal and sleep. Sometimes other characters would go visit and talk to him, but he never left the “house”. It was weird. He couldn't use a computer. I even thought about searching an explanation on the Internet. I was afraid I might be missing something.

And then, episode 7 comes to explain it all!

He was not “off the grid”. He was in prison!

Because he murdered a guy [I assumed, so far, by the hints presented]! And he completely deleted this from his memory. It's like he's been in a trauma for a long time. And all that we see is a re-imagination of his situation. His room is in reality a prison cell, his new colleagues are prisoners, just like him, and they were the ones playing basketball everyday. But the way the explanation came, with only images and Elliot breaking the fourth wall was really amazing to me. It was well done.

But overall I think the series is excellent because of the odd camera angles, the colors, the juxtaposition of sound and silence, the very-near-future-techno feel and the ironic villains with obvious names (Evil Corp is the name of the mega corporation that owns almost everything).

#mr.robot #tvseries

Books read in February 2019

  1. Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi, 208p [Audio]

    • Do you remember the last time you stopped to look into nothingness? And just let your mind wander? Like real mental downtime? Why do we behave as addicts filling every idle moment of our day with newsfeed/social media checking? This book gives excellent food for thought specially about mobile phone use. It's not radical, the author is by no means a ludite. It just encourages moderation.
  2. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport, 302p

    • A very good read in times of overwhelming social media feeds. The idea is to unplug and do more creative fun things. Some ideas were not new to me but it brings lots of examples of how to address bad habits related to the digital world. It's definitely eye opening and give us a method on how to become digital minimalists. Less is more.
  3. Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger, 401p

    • Steampunk. tea drinking, werewolves, vampires and airship travel. Yay!
  4. The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal, 432p

    • Such a great read! Science, space, math, feminism, astronauts, engineers, jetplanes, rockets!

Reading plans for March:

  • Finish reading Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
  • The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Lady Astronaut of Mars (Lady Astronaut #4.5) [Novelette]
  • Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger

Erasing facebook

I've been thinking a lot about social media lately.

Actually, I've been thinking about it for a long time. And I've taken action to minimize my exposure: I deleted my Instagram and Pinterest account, I used extensions to eliminate Facebook's annoying timeline, I unfollowed hundreds of profiles on Twitter. But I still use social media a little.

I still check Twitter for local weather and traffic news or alerts. And I like to check the latest tweets from some cool authors I follow. I connect with people using the Facebook Groups platform. I have a LinkedIn account. I occasionally go check Reddit.

And after all this time reflecting, tweaking and observing my behavior I still think that the minimum amount of social media usage is not that beneficial. Maybe the benefits do not completely outweighs the downsides.

I can list at least 5 books I've read in the past that made me rethink the way I engage with social media and with the Internet in general:

And now I'm reading Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. And just like Tristan Harris saying that social media apps today are like slot machines, Cal Newport says they are the “new smoking”:

“The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let’s face it, checking your “likes” is the new smoking.” ― Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Which, in the end, is saying that they are extremely addictive, no doubt.

And I worry about it. Have I become addicted without even knowing? How did those websites and apps changed my behavior? Is my mind being hijacked? Am I aware?

I don't have answers right now but I am feeling that after reading Cal Newport's new book I'm gonna have a radical change on how I use social media and the Internet.

#socialmedia #digitalminimalism

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Attention Wars

Who owns our attention? Are you paying attention?

This Braincraft series is a nice discussion about the #attentionwars.

There are 6 episodes discussing persuasive design, the psychology of attention and how to use technology more intentionally.

I love that in the end of each episode Vanessa Hill (the presenter) tells us to watch the series at our own pace and at our time 😊.

Recommended!

#socialmedia #attention #braincraft

Digital Minimalism cover on my Kindle

So, Cal Newport's new book just arrived on my Kindle today 🤗.

I am reading 2 other books right now, but I really want to pick this one up (and maybe change my readings plan for this month a little bit).

But the thing is: I feel more and more overwhelmed by the so called “social media”. I already maintain the few accounts I have with the bare minimum of feeds. Well, my Facebook is totally blank now because I use a News Feed Eradicator and the Nudge extension to practically mute it.

And this book seems to be a sane reflection on how to use digital technologies today. I like minimalism and I like digital tools. Perfect combination.

From the author:

Minimalism is the art of knowing how much is just enough. Digital minimalism applies this idea to our personal technology. It’s the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world.

Can't wait to read his ideas on this topic!

#book #digitalminimalism

Read books Jan 2019

  1. The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu, 417

    • This was my first audio book ever. Although I got tired of the narrator's voice, the book is a fascinating story of advertisements.
  2. The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow, 272p

    • Another audio book and I must that this is probably better experienced with a written version. There were some tables and graphs descriptions that did not quite work while listening to it. But the book is great and convince us that almost everything is random and we don't really have control of the outcomes. Just let it be.
  3. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson, 224p

    • I am a huge fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson. His podcast StarTalk Radio is one of my favorites but curiously I've never read one of his books. And this one is narrated by himself and it's excellent! It's very accessible and it's filled with fascinating facts about the Universe. I loved the chapter about the cosmic Periodic Table. The last chapter is absolutely beautiful giving us a brilliant cosmic perspective.
  4. enough by Patrick Rhone, 96p

    • This one is a collection of essays from the author's blog that basically encourages us to think about what is enough in our lives. It's a quick read full of interesting insights.
  5. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, 313p

    • Weird and interesting book. You can read my thought about it here.

Reading plans for February:

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